Jan 22 2017

VanderbiltCupRaces.com Exclusive: The Tucker 1044 at the RM Sotheby’s Auction in Scottsdale

A rarely seen Tucker '48 was auctioned last Thursday at the RM Sotheby's Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was able to obtain this upclose look of this historic automobile by the seller and new owner.


Howard Kroplick

RM Sotheby's Auction Catalog

1948 Tucker 48
Chassis no. 1044
Engine no. 335-74
Body no. 1044
166 bhp, 335 cu. in. OHV horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine, four-speed pre-selector transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130 in.
•Offered from the personal collection of a marque specialist
•Only 7,900 actual miles; known ownership history from new
•Formerly owned by David Tunick and Lester Sheaffer
•A recent “barn find,” unseen for 33 years
•The car without which no major collection is complete
There is little about the Tucker automobile that has not already been said. No post-war American automobile has had every facet of its story so religiously studied and examined; none was more controversial when new, and fewer are more beloved today. Indeed, it would please a vindicated Preston Tucker that the 47 surviving examples of the 51 cars he built are among the most valuable and desirable American cars. They draw the most attention and crowds to any museum at which they are displayed, including such venerable halls as the Henry Ford, the Petersen Automotive Museum, the National Automobile Museum, and the Nethercutt Museum. They are the trophies of renowned collectors who consider their fleets of Duesenbergs, Isottas, and Ferraris simply otherwise incomplete without “The Car of Tomorrow.”

Tucker number 1044 was, as its name suggests, the 44th production car built and was one of nine originally finished in Green (a.k.a. Andante Green) with a green wool broadcloth interior. It remained in the factory inventory until 1950, when, at the famed auction of the Tucker Corporation’s assets, it and the famous “Tin Goose” prototype were sold to a Mr. Rifken, proprietor of S&S Auto Parts in Schaumburg, Illinois.
The car was repainted bright red and brought to the 1951 International Motor Show in Washington, D.C., where it was featured in the pictorial program as “The Modern Jewel . . . a new Tucker with less than 3,000 miles.” Allen L. Rocco, a mechanic from Port Chester, New York, was so eager to finally see a Tucker “in the metal” that he drove 300 miles to the show. Apparently the car made an impression, as thereafter, he bought it, only to advertise it for sale in the 19 October 1952 edition of The New York Times. “Very fast and economical,” he assured.
The car failed to sell, however, and remained in Mr. Rocco’s ownership for the rest of his life. Following his passing in the early 1960s, it passed to his widow, who sold it later that decade to David Tunick, a renowned antique automobile collector from Connecticut.
In July of 1973, Mr. Tunick passed the car to Lester A. Sheaffer, a legendary Tucker enthusiast in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who owned and enjoyed numerous examples over the years. Mr. Sheaffer began a restoration of the car, installing a new Tucker engine, number 335-74, and Cord transmission, as was done for most all restored Tuckers, and refinishing it in a dark brown. The car was subsequently displayed in Antique Automobile Club of America judging in 1980 and 1981, winning its Senior First Prize; in 1981 it was even pictured on the plaque given to Hershey attendants!
In 1982, Mr. Sheaffer sold his beloved Tucker to Millard “Skip” Groh, owner of a marina in Freeport, Ohio. The car was brought to Freeport, where reportedly it was driven only three times and about 15 miles. Mr. Groh then laid wood planks down on the gravel floor of a metal building on his property, drove the Tucker onto them, and closed the door. That was that. While the location of the car was quietly known to Tucker authorities and historians, it remained “off the radar” to the public. Attempts by the few people with knowledge of its whereabouts to acquire the car were all refused, and it remained hidden away for the next 34 years.
Only recently was the consignor, a longtime Tucker enthusiast, expert, restorer, and archivist, able to finally acquire Tucker 1044, bringing it into daylight for the first time since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
The car was found to be quite well-preserved, with only 7,900 actual miles. The owner removed incorrect metal trim that had been added over the years and fitted proper Tucker wheels, while also servicing the fuel and ignition systems, the brakes, and all of the fluids, and rebuilding the water pump and fan. Afterwards, the car ran and drove as it was intended to do—and as it does today. In fact, the owner notes that “the drivetrain is nothing short of wonderful.” The lights, turn indicators, and horn all work properly, as do the speedometer, oil pressure gauge, and voltmeter. The water temperature gauge works, but it should be rebuilt. The body has begun to shed its 1972 paint but remains rust-free and remarkably clean, while the interior, replaced at the same time, is still in very good condition and does not require replacement.
The new owner can enjoy the support of numerous marque authorities. Tucker historian Jay Follis has compiled a detailed and extensive report on this car and its history, a copy of which will accompany the Tucker to its new owner. Furthermore, the owner, as aforementioned himself an expert in the marque, has offered his advice and services as necessary, to help familiarize the buyer with his or her acquisition.
Ideal for a new owner to upgrade cosmetically and continue driving, or the best possible candidate for a concours-quality restoration, this is one of the very, very few Tuckers that are genuinely “fresh to market.” It boasts one of the best and most complete histories of the 47 extant examples, and it is truly the most exciting Tucker to have come to market in recent years. For the collector whose stable is not yet complete, or the museum that desires the biggest draw in automobiles, there is simply no better choice.


The unique center cyclops eye of the Tucker, which turns with the front wheel.This Tucker was originally painted "Andante Green" at the factory. The automobile was painted root beer brown in 1972.

The body shape still lokks aerodynamic today with a wheelbase of 130 inches and an overall height of less than five feet.

Another pioneering safety feature: The laminated safety glass was mounted in a sponge rubber fastening. In the event of a collision, the window would eject in one piece.

The ACCA National First Prize plaque was mounted on the fender in 1981 by then owner Les Sheaffer.

The plaque has remained on the fender for  for 35 years.

Wonderful "suicide" doors. Since the engine is in the rear, the absence of a driveshaft hump allows roominess in both front and back.

The Tuckers feature  pioneering roof top doors that become part of the roof.

These doors enabled the driver and passengers to more readily enter and leave the Tucker.

Six separate exhaust pipes for the six cyclinders Note: The Tucker emblem on the rear hood.

The Tucker "Symbol of Safety" crest on the hood of the rear engine and hubcaps.


The conventional instrument panel was replaced in the Tuckers with a sponge rubber "crash board cowl." Instruments are completely in the steering panel with a padded bar for protection.

To the right of the steering panel is a "safety chamber". Protected by steel bulkheads in which "diver and front seat occupants could drop in case of impending collision."

The automobile has only 7,909 miles. From 1982 to 12016, it was driven only 15 miles by its owner.

This Tucker has the 4-speed  Cord 810 electric preselector transmission. Shifting is accomplished by moving this "lollypop" lever and the clutch.

Starter button, hood release and air controls.

Tucker #1044 has an original radio, which was going to be an option for purchasers.


The 166 HP engine is mounted in the rear.

As with the majority of Tuckers 1044 has a Franklin 0-335 Engine. The engine was originally developed for  early hellicopters. Enginehistory.org notes the following:

It is of interest to automobile enthusiasts that the engine used as the basis for the 1948 Tucker automobile engine was the Franklin O-335 (in its 6V4-178 or 6V4-200) air-cooled helicopter-engine version. Franklin and Tucker converted the air-cooled O-335 into an engine with a fully-sealed liquid-cooling system for the 1948 Tucker.

Engine specifications:H-6 (horizontally opposed), ohv, 335 ci (4.50 x 3.50 in. bore x stroke), 7.0:1 compression ratio, 372 lbs/ft torque.


The trunk space is located in the front.

The original Tucker ID under the trunk hood.


The 1948 Tucker 1044 (Lot #160) was sold on Thursday, January 20, 2017, approximately $400,000 lower than RM Sotheby's lowest estimate.

Here is the new owner of the 1948 Tucker 1044!

It should be in its new Roslyn, Long Island home within two weeks. Restoration plans to be determined.


Jan 22 2017 Ron Ridolph 3:16 AM

Hi Howard:

  Congrats to you on this great acquisition and enjoy !!!!!  Hope to see it in

                  Cheers !!!!  Ron Ridolph

Jan 22 2017 Gary Hammond 8:32 AM

Congrats!!!  Another unique car added to your “stable” of unique vehicles - what a fortunate purchase for us also, as now a Tucker will be here on Long Island where it will be shared with the public to also enjoy.  Based on your photos, I think my favorite aspect of the car is the Tucker radio.  My only question is why would someone repaint it root beer brown?  I would think the original green would have been more appealing, of course it was the 70’s.  Does this older “restoration” lessen its collector value or is it just that rare?
Howard Kroplick:

Gary, you make an excellent point. Brown was likely a favorite color of the Tucker’s owner in 1972.  Similar to the auction for Chrysler’s Chrysler, the peeling paint and color probably hurt the auction price - a relatively simple fix down the road.

Jan 22 2017 ROGER YACKEL 10:40 AM

Great News

It’s wonderful to have a Tucker on Long Island. It’s one of my favorite classics.

Good luck with it. Howard

Jan 22 2017 Mark Lanese 10:58 AM

Awesome! Really enjoyed reading the history of this great car. What a surprise ending. Can’t wait to see it.

Jan 22 2017 Wayne 11:19 AM

Howard, congratulations on winning the bid for the Tucker 48, looking forward to seeing the rare barn find at the upcoming spring LI car shows.

Jan 22 2017 Dick Gorman 11:29 AM

Wow! I’m betting nearly every car collector dreams of owning a Tucker. I noted that it was described at the auction as… “A recent “barn find,” unseen for 33 years” Wonderful that you are bringing it back to life for all of us to see and hear.

Jan 22 2017 Robert H Luttgen 11:45 AM

Congratulations Howard, one of my favorite cars.  It’s brilliance really didn’t sink in until I saw my first one in person.  As to the “continue driving” vs.“concours-quality” question; well let’s just say that I suspect that you will do both.  My only question is: would you retain the Cord transmission in a concours-quality build?


From Howard Kroplick:

Bob, I will take some time to research the next steps for the restoration including the transmission.

Wikipedia does a good job summarizing the features of Tucker automobiles :


Jan 22 2017 Phil Benincasa SR. 12:01 PM

You certainly know how to put together a collection.

Jan 22 2017 Mike Cain 12:36 PM

Congratulations Howard!  I love Tuckers and I agree with Gary. Restore it to the original green color. Can’t wait to see it here on Long Island. Enjoy!
From Howard Kroplick:

Mike, that sure makes sense. The Tucker Automobile Club of America’s website provides a gallery of the Tuckers including their original and current colors.


Jan 22 2017 Howard Kroplick 1:12 PM

From Jan H:

Just great.  Can’t wait to see it!!!

Jan 22 2017 Ted Reina 1:49 PM

Congrats to you. As I was reading this I was thinking that this is a car for you and then at the end,OMG,it’s yours,but when am I going to see it, Howard ? Pictures aren’t enough. I think I mentioned to you that they have a Cruise-In Show once a month here in The Villages,Spanish Springs,all are welcome from anywhere,all you have to do is register the car in advance to enter,when you get here. Howard you have to come here, you’ll love it,there’s nothing like it.You may even get an award for traveling the longest distance.If you need further details e-mail me and I’ll try to find out.
Howard Kroplick:

Ted, hope all is well. I have no plans yet except to bring it back to Waterfront at Roslyn garage.

Jan 22 2017 Howard Kroplick 1:55 PM

From Robert R.:
Wonderful piece on the amazing Tucker.
Isn’t the engine a Lycoming aircraft engine?
And such great news!
All the best,
Howard Kroplick:

Robert, the engine is a Franklin 0-335 which was initially built for early helicopters. I have added the engine history above.

Jan 22 2017 Art Kleiner 2:02 PM

Another great addition to your collection, Howard!  And so happy its going to be on LI.  Now, how about purchasing a 1997 Toyota Corolla - only five years for it to be antique.  Sotheby’s hasn’t returned by call!

Jan 22 2017 Howard Kroplick 2:07 PM

From Robert R.:

Wonderful piece on the amazing Tucker.
Isn’t the engine a Lycoming aircraft engine?
And such great news!

All the best,
Howard Kroplick:

Robert, the engine is a Franklin 0-335 which was initially built for early helicopters. I have added the engine history above.

Jan 22 2017 Howard Kroplick 3:38 PM

From Sharon Mandel:

Can’t wait to see your Tucker!!

Jan 22 2017 Howard Kroplick 3:39 PM

From Ken:
Congrats. Somehow, after our conversation at the awards banquet, I suspected that a Tucker was in your sights.

Jan 22 2017 Chris Heisig 4:14 PM

Congrats on your newest addition . I look forward to your adventure with it and your sharing it with us ( Like all your others)  You keep history alive and interesting .
                                                      Happy Motoring ,Chris Heisig

Jan 22 2017 Ted 5:42 PM

All is well here. I know it’s going to take time to get it the way you want it,after that,I’m saying,down the road.I sure would to see it.I’ve seen Tucker’s,but I don’t think anything like this one and it’s yours,which makes it more special to me. I wish you the best with it and enjoy another piece of history.

Jan 22 2017 Greg O. 5:49 PM

Howard, Congrats on another amazing acquisition! Always know the ‘right ones’ to collect!

Jan 22 2017 Jerry Shapiro 6:00 PM

Howard, Congratulations to you on this great acquisition to your collection of unusual, historic classic automobiles. I’m so pleased that it’s new home will be in your Roslyn, Long Island waterfront garage. I’m really looking forward to seeing it whenever you decide to show it. I applaud you for making your collection available to the public at car shows, both big and small. This Tucker has been hidden from the public for too long and I’m confident that you will rectify that.  Even Tuckers need to feel the warm sunshine or gentle rain on their bodies from time to time. BTW, Although not original paint, I like the root beer brown color!

Jan 22 2017 Chuck Rudy 6:49 PM

Congratulations on that amazing piece of history!  What might have been if that little guy was not drummed out of business.  You have the tangible result of one man’s dream which was an amazing journey.  Enjoy it, it looks fabulous!

Jan 22 2017 Howard Kroplick 7:25 PM

From Ed L.

Congrats. It is fortunate that it landed in your hands where it will be well cared for.  Ed.

Jan 22 2017 Howard Kroplick 7:31 PM

From Jerry & Rita:

Howard, Mazel Tov and Bouna Fortuna The best part is that you share your collection and passion with us all Many years of “Tucker” fun. Can’t wait to see it

Jan 22 2017 Steve Green 7:34 PM

Howie. . . . . .You’ve done it again!!  (I was enjoying the article immensely.  When I got to the surprise ending, that made the story all the more enjoyable).  As a family member (OK, OK, only by marriage), I’m invoking my right (and obligation, as a legitimate auto restoration and collection fan, with my own modest collection of old Ramblers) to see this car firsthand.  (We’ll probably be out to New York from California some time this Spring to see the new grandson, but your Tucker is now a “must see”).  Best wishes to you and Roz on your new “baby”. . . . . .Cuzzin Steve

Howard Kroplick

Steve, look forward to seeing you in the Spring!

Jan 22 2017 Walt Gosden 9:58 PM

Howard, It is wonderful that you could acquire a Tucker, I know you mentioned you wished you could own one for some time. There were Tucker dealers in Baldwin and Bay Shore when the cars were new. There are more Tucker radios around then the number of cars built - as the manufacturer of the radios insisted that Tucker take a certain quantity. The Franklin air cooled helicopter motors were made in Liverpool, NY by former Franklin car engineers Carl Doman and Ed Marks (Domark engines) . I knew Ed Marks and had interviewed him several times about the Franklin cars and company, but we never discussed Tucker. Yesterday at the diner in western NJ just down the road from your favorite restoration shop a few of us got together and one was a long time CCCA guy , our friend Norman,  who told the tale of that Bay Shore Tucker dealer having the side of his building painted with the Tucker name. Parts were still in the back of the building long after the Tucker faded (radios, desk sets /promo cars cast in metal) etc. that Norman tried to buy but was not successful in doing. I am still looking for the photo I have that was taken in Baldwin of a friend at that time age 18 sitting in the front seat of the Tucker at that dealer with the salesman standing next to the car.,

Howard Kroplick:

Walt, thanks for the Tucker/Long Island link.

Jan 23 2017 Mike Rossman 11:55 AM

Wow, what a surprise ending.  Congratulations on acquiring the Tucker.  Tucker has always been one of my favorite classic automobiles with all the innovative safety and other features.  This was an excellent article on the car and its history.  I look forward to seeing it at any of the Long Island car shows.  My family always loves your cars.

Jan 23 2017 Steve Lucas 12:05 PM

Congratulations Howard!!! This is absolutely amazing. I’ve always been fascinated with the “Tucker” story and his battle with the “Big Three”. Another historically significant automobile comes to Long Island. To paraphrase the famous line from “JAWS”, “You’re gonna need a bigger garage”.
Howard Kroplick:
Steve, funny!!!!

Jan 23 2017 frank femenias 3:30 PM

Congrats Howard. The sleek tailgate looks great with those exhaust pipes, the front end as well. Definitely ahead of their time in ‘48

Jan 24 2017 L.M.K. 9:45 AM

Howard, I echo all of the same sentiments expressed above…..

Enjoy it !!

Jan 24 2017 Howard Kroplick 11:09 AM

From Art K.

Congratulations on the new purchase Can’t wait to see it.

Jan 24 2017 Ron Troy 10:40 PM

Great car, hope to see it in person some day.  Howard, if you restore the Tucker, I hope we get to see the whole process again!


Jan 25 2017 Bruce Richmond 7:14 PM

Big K,  Congratulations !!! Hope we get a slide show at the draft.  A wonderful addition!
Howard Kroplick:

Cuz, will do!

Jan 27 2017 Bob Soars 9:00 AM

Many years ago, (‘spring ‘84) my good friend Art Brummer and I were camped next to the dumping station at Spring Carlisle.  As we were unpacking, a guy next to us was bragging about this extremely rare Tucker radio he had found and was expecting to get some major $ for it.  Art very calmly explained to the gentleman that it was mainly a decoration for someone’s shelf.  He was very dejected!!!

Jan 29 2017 mark schaier 4:13 AM

Congratulations Howard, A NEW cap and shirt, green? with the name TUCKER on it?

Jan 29 2017 Howard Kroplick 7:07 PM

Tobey R:

Congratulations on the purchase of the Tucker! We were all so happy to see it go to you where it will have a great home.

Jan 29 2017 Howard Kroplick 7:32 PM

From Ricard K:
I simply had to respond to your Newsletter!  As a fellow member of the Peconic Car Club. And having watched you give kids an opportunity to sit in the Black Beast, so often at the Hallockville car show! I had to say how much i enjoy, what you do to promote not only old cars, but also the Long Island Motor Parkway!  I was born and raised in Farmingdale!  And all my life I have had encounters with the few remains of the Motor parkway!  Unfortunately many traces have been
lost over the years!  I worked for the Town of Oyster Bay, Both in the Engineering dept. and the Building Dept. And this gave me so many chances to catch glimpses of the Parkway. During my years with Oyster Bay!  Sadly far too many people have lost the significance of what Mr Vanderbilt gave to Long Island , over his years of FUNDING, that wonderful roadway!  (Speedway)

I am now 75 years old, And please let me say how much I admire your wonderful efforts to give that information to The current generations of people, who are not aware of your messages here!  We now live on Shelter island (in the Summer months) and Florida (on an airpark in the winter). And as an owner of a 1946 Ford pick up truck and a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria, I also am a old car collector.  I have visions of someday acquiring an old Midget racer, to team up on a trailer, with the 46 pick-up!  My Father loved midget racers!  AND I have such wonderfull memories of watching and Smelling castor oil , Dirt etc. At Freeport race track and Islip race track as a kid!  Sadly the kids today will never know the glory of experiencing those thrills as I did! 

I must congatulate you on what you do!  Please keep up all the fantastic efforts, that you do, in keeping Long islands history alive, for people to enjoy!

And thank you for your wonderful newsletter!

Jan 29 2017 David B. Keith 11:04 PM

When I was fifteen, my dad took me to the new Tucker dealer in Avon, Massachusetts, just south of Boston.  We saw the car, which had just come in that week, and of course I started pleading with Dad to order one!  Unfortunately, it was not to be.  All I have to remind me of that day is a Tucker brochure.  Does anyone know what it might be worth?  There’s no point in my keeping it any longer.
Howard Kroplick

David, I believe they go for $250 to $500 on EBay.

Jan 30 2017 David Benowitz 7:43 AM

Congrats Howard. Looking forward to seeing the Tucker and you sometime soon.

Best regards,

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